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  • Diffenbaugh, N.S., C.H. Krupke, M.A. White and C.E. Alexander, 2008: Global warming presents new challenges for maize pest management. Environmental Research Letters, doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/3/4/044007.

It has been conjectured that global warming will increase the prevalence of insect pests in many agro-ecosystems. In this paper, we quantitatively assess four of the key pests of maize, one of the most important systems in North American grain production. Using empirically generated estimates of pest overwintering thresholds and degree-day requirements, along with climate change projections from a high-resolution climate model, we project potential future ranges for each of these pests in the United States. Our analysis suggests the possibility of increased winter survival and greater degree-day accumulations for each of the pests surveyed. We find that relaxed cold limitation could expand the range of all four pest taxa, including a substantial range expansion in the case of corn earworm (H. zea), a migratory, cold-intolerant pest. Because the corn earworm is a cosmopolitan pest that has shown resistance to insecticides, our results suggest that this expansion could also threaten other crops, including those in high-value areas of the western United States. Because managing significant additional pressure from this suite of established pests would require additional pest management inputs, the projected decreases in cold limitation and increases in heat accumulation have the potential to significantly alter the pest management landscape for North American maize production. Further, these range expansions could have substantial economic impacts through increased seed and insecticide costs, decreased yields, and the downstream effects of changes in crop yield variability.

Full Article: http://www.purdue.edu/eas/earthsystem/abs_Diffenbaugh_ERL_08.htm

Last Updated: 2008-12-30

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